Having joined his new teammates at Llandarcy for the first time, Dai Flanagan has said that his move to the Ospreys has given him a fresh impetus as he looks forward to the new season.
The fly-half, who has signed from Cardiff Blues, met up with the rest of the squad on Monday for a day of testing, which has been followed by a series of tough sessions under the conditioning team, combined with rugby sessions led by Director of Coaching Scott Johnson and his team of coaches.
Having been part of the Blues set-up for the last five years, the Wales age-grade cap says that the switch to a new environment has definitely given him a real boost:
““That’s definitely the case, I’ve had a real fresh impetus coming into this pre-season. It’s like the first day in school, I was excited coming in, there were a bit of nerves there. Maybe, if I was going back to the environment where I knew everyone and everything, the comfort zone, those nerves wouldn’t have been there. It gives you a fresh outlook on everything, you see things differently and understand different things when you take a new challenge. Seeing different ways of working or looking at things will make you a better player, definitely.
“There’s a very forward thinking coaching team who like to do things differently. It’s early days for me, but just spending the first few days with them you can see that. You can see the excitement that is brought to training sessions and the knowledge that the coaches have to pass over. I’m just looking forward to working closely with them as the summer moves on.”
It may be a new environment, but there are plenty of familiar faces in the squad to help Flanagan settle in at the region, and he says that there is definitely a positive vibe about the place:
“There’s a lot of familiar faces here, boys I’ve grown up with in age-grade rugby and sevens rugby, but even the boys I don’t know have been top guys. They’ve all come over and introduced themselves and made me feel very welcome. It’s only the second day but there’s a good feeling about the place and it seems like it was meant to be.
“Basically now, I’ve got to get my head down and look to take my opportunities as and when they come. Hopefully, as long as I can prove myself each day, in every session we do, and prove that I deserve the shirt for the first pre-season game, then I’ll get the chance to take that opportunity on the field and keep the shirt. Nothing’s going to be easy, I won’t get anything given to me, there are good players here and if I want to play then I’m going to have to earn every game.”
The first few days was all about physical testing, with the conditioning team putting the players through a wide range of tests, some of which were new to Flanagan as he explained:
“I think I did okay. It was a bit different to the tests I’ve done before but I think it went okay. It was very hard going, there was a lot of running, and I’m just waiting for the conditioners to come back with the results now. I’ll sit down with them for a one-to-one then, to find out what my goals are and what they want from me in order to progress.
“I’ve done quite a bit of training before I got here, I’ve got my body fat down to lower than what it was last year already, so I’m ready to test myself in a new environment.”
As well as physical testing, there are challenges for Flanagan to overcome before he gets the chance to stake a claim for a place, as along with fellow new recruits Mefin Davies and Richard Fussell, he has to familiarise himself with the Ospreys phrase book and call book, something which is a real test in itself, and which has seen the trio watching the first rugby sessions from the sides as they familiarise themselves with the lingo:
“I’m thoroughly enjoying the first few days and I’m really looking forward to the challenges ahead. I watched the first rugby session from the side and I was impressed by how things work, it looked sharp and precise, so being a part of that from here on in is exciting for me.
“It’s not as straight forward as stepping straight into the session, there’s a language and calls system here that is completely different to what I’ve been used to so it takes a bit of time to understand it. We’ve got all the information to learn, but you are probably better off having a look from the outside first like the new boys have been. You can pick up a bit more this way than if you are thrown straight into it, in the middle making mistakes all the time and annoying people. You can start to get frustrated with yourself and it probably takes longer to learn then. It gives us chance to learn the basic calls and everything, which is an important part of what the Ospreys are about. It’s the first challenge for us, but it shouldn’t be long before all three of us are playing a full part.”